Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Man on the prowl: Men travellers and what they're looking for – in a woman.

I sit alone at a bar in Ko Samui, Bangkok. The bar is quite crowded, as it should be at this time of the year. But I choose to wait for the ‘right’ company. Ten minutes later a gorgeous girl brushes past me and the rest of the mob, trying to get to the bar table.
Ahh, she wants me. That’s the sign. It has to be.
On her way back I ask her if I can buy a drink.
No. (she wants me to play hard to get)
Would she like to sit by me for a while.
No. (She’s faltering, I can sense it)
Could I have her number?
No. And leave me alone, freak of nature, I’m with someone. (I can see her lips moving. But like a badly dubbed Chinese movie, all I can hear is “Ask me again and I might say yes!”)
3:00 am and eight martinis down, my hopes aren’t the only thing that are high.
Two hours later, I’m wondering why she led me on if she didn’t want to take it further. Women!

Ok ladies, there’s something you have to know about men.
We have a diminished understanding of what we look like and how charming we are. This lack of understanding is heightened outside our familiarity zone.
We take a small trip out of the city, and we’re hit by the James Bond Syndrome.
We become the kings of smooth pick up lines, and we assume women can’t escape the enigmatic charm. I think this is because we are at a place where people don’t know that we aren’t the studly studs we make out to be. For a short while we can assume an identity of someone with confidence and pizzazz.

There’s another thing you should know about us. Ask any man, and you will find that a large number of actions fall into the purview of flirting which you might not know about. Like breathing. Or walking into a club. That’s flirting according to us.
On a serious note though, you can trust us to misconstrue pretty much any look or movement. You could have a weak bladder and be looking for the little ladies room. Eye contact with any male in the room at this time will be misunderstood.
He’s not reading a face that says – Damn my weak bladder.
What he’s reading is – Come hither Tarzan.

As progressive as our society claims to be, we don’t see too many women that drink or smoke in public. It’s frowned upon. If I see a woman lighting one up, it’s going to have my antennae up. “She smokes! Who knows what else she’ll do? Maybe she’s one of those naughty girls that will give me a back rub. I’m going over and saying hi.”

Any show of skin just gives us another reason to target you. You may underestimate the level of desperation if you think that knuckles and toes are excluded. Increase the percentage of skin showing, courtesy short skirts or off-shoulders and more men will come up to you. In this particular case, even sitting with company will not deter us.

Going up and coming on to women whilst traveling is much easier because there’s no fear of failing. We don’t see the harm is falling flat on our faces, because you don’t know us. Or anyone we know. And hopefully nobody those people know. The news can’t spread. Safe to say, Bond can show his face in public again.

What’s it boils down to is, when traveling, reality gets warped. Confidence gets a boost. Libido goes up. Logic comes down. Rules don’t apply. We’ve not only taken a trip away from home, but also from all the rules and realities that bind that life.
You can travel in packs, dress however you want, and try to avoid making eye contact. But the man traveler is on the prowl, and he has packing some pretty lousy pick up lines.

Note: I have bever been to ko samui. I have never walked up to strange women soliciting my sexual abilities. I have not hit on my colleagues. I am a nice boy (feel free to read as whipped) who has not and will not fall of the 'committed' wagon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why Do men like violent movies?

(This is something I wrote for femina a couple of months back)

I sit there wide eyed as Arnold Swazewazizname blows a hole through the head of his evil nemesis in Terminator 2. He doesn’t die of course because his body parts are of liquid metal.
My better half looks on with her mouth agape. First at the screen, then at me. And I’ve known her long enough to hear her thoughts.

“Why the hell do you like this insane movie? And if you manage to answer that, then kindly tell again why I’m with you! I keep forgetting.”

I don’t really want to take my eyes off the screen, so I try and answer telepathically too. Apparently I have not perfected the art.

It is only at the end of the movie I realize that the better half had walked out shortly after intermission. It’s because of nights like these that I’ve been well acquainted with the sofa.
To cut a long story short, I thought the movie was nothing short of brilliant.

She didn’t.

All the guys I know love it too. It’s a classic.
Women think it’s too graphic and takes violence to a whole new level of insanity.
Whaaaaat? Do you think the robots should have sat down over coffee and settled it amicably? Yeah, he’ll stop trying to kill you if you give him a good telling off.
And it’s not just this movie. I’ve had debates with women about several such ‘artful’ movies.
What it boils down to is that men like violent flicks. Women don’t.


I’ll tell you why.
(cue ambient music please)

A couple of thousand years ago before language was invented and when dinosaurs weren’t just a couple of bones super glued together at a museum, men and women had distinct roles.
Yes, yes, we all know this part. Men were the food gatherers. The hunters and the providers.
Women, stayed indoors to look after the kids and, in the absence of inane soap operas about satanic mother-in-laws, did other house-hold chores. Some even dabbled in the arts. That’s where you get cave drawings and hieroglyphics from.

Coming back to the point, men were close to the action. Hunting wild boar, steering clear of vicious lions and bringing down woolly mammoths. Stuff that got the adrenaline pumping and the bones a-breaking.

Now fast forward to a couple of thousand years ahead. The closest we get to hunting is tracking down a mosquito that’s buzzing around your ear at 3 a.m in the morning.
We miss the good stuff.
The testosterone heavy, action packed activity that’s been instilled in our blood.
So who do we turn to for help.
You know it - good ole movies.
And not just any movies. Violent ones.

Give us car crashes. Men shooting at men. Men shooting at aliens. Men shooting at aliens while crashing their cars. Killer cyborgs with catchy lines. Computers that use humans as AA batteries. Zombies that have teamed up with aliens to crash all the cars on the planet.
It’s all good to us.

Women don’t seem to understand this need. They’ll be dragging us to movies about a book store owner that falls in love with an actress. Or a prostitute that falls in love with a millionaire.
Do they have the expertise to crash a four wheel drive?
Have they been keeping up with recent UFO sightings?
Nooooooo. Because they’re too busy falling in love, out of love and back again.
Well , Whoop-di-doo! Never saw that coming did we?

All we need is a bit of action with a semi-decent plot. Safe to say that we’re flexible on the plot part too.

And don’t you think that the gore, explosions, occasional sex scene and fighting isn’t integral to the movie. You might question it, but we’re pretty sure it’s justified.

Why does a respectable man with a doctorate eat people, and in the most gruesome fashion?”, you might ask.
C’mon…everyone is allowed to get hungry. He just ate what was closest to him - his friends. Give him a break.

“What are the chances of the helicopter crashing into a highly flammable LPG tanker which flips over a couple of times landing close to a petrol pump before exploding?”
I’m come up with a fail-proof formula to calculate the probability of the occurrence.
(N+1)p-3 . N being the number of helicopters in the world. And p being another fancy letter that I had to put up there to sound authentic.
The answer I came up with is - Pretty good.

“Why doesn’t she just kill her counterpart straight off. Why does she need to gouge her eye our and leave a deadly snake lying around to eventually bite the bejeezes out of her?”
Any violence aficionado knows that it’s a metaphor. What the director is trying to communicate is that the world has turned a blind eye to… errr… reptile conservation.
Yes, because we love them reptiles. (Snakes are reptiles right?)

One might also tend to believe that men have been conditioned by society to watch and enjoy violent movies.
We’re not. Trust me, it’s inherent.
Let’s say you have kids. A pair of twins. Give the boy a Barbie and the girl a toy truck. Odds are the boy will be ripping her head apart, maybe using the torso as a plane, whilst the girl has already painted here SUV with soft pink polka dots and invited it to her tea party.

Oh, stop complaining. You’ll be thanking us someday for the screen-attained knowledge. It’s only because of these kinds of violent movies that I have a plan, if, heaven forbid, disaster is eminent.
When monsters of the netherworld are near, if a killer in a hockey mask is on the loose, if a gun wielding mob has blocked the road, I know exactly what to do.

Scream like a little girl and run like crazy.

While you might have been keeping a close eye on the hero of the movie, I’ve been watching the tiny vanishing dot in the background. The extra who decided not to risk his unmentionables in the battle to save the earth. The one who left unscathed.
I am that man.
He who lived to tell the tale.
And all those who follow suit, are gonna be thanking their lucky stars that I’ve been well informed through the magic of cinema.
And what are the chances of that happening?
Pretty good.